Former Republican Jeff Wood beat Republican challenger Don Moga, by a narrow 175 votes, to retain his western Wisconsin Assembly seat.
Wood, an Independent from Bloomer in Chippewa County, says he knew it would be a close race, as his former party made a big push to keep his district 67 Assembly seat in Republican hands. "I actually didn't think I could win when I decided to do it (leave the GOP)" Wood says. "But I just didn't want to seek this office as a Republican again, because I no longer believe in what the party claims it stands for."
Wood, accused of cutting a secret deal with Democrats to have more influence with committee assignments if they were to win the majority, believes he can be effective as an Independent. "I think I'm in much better shape than if I was a Republican in the minority," says Wood. "I have a long track record of working with a lot of people that are now in the majority, in helping them get bills done in the last six years."
Wood says he wasn't surprised by the Democratic victory in the Assembly — they picked up five seats and will be in the majority for the next session. Wood says voters seemed to be rejecting negative advertising. "What I think we saw here in the Chippewa Valley especially, but across the state, is the really negative, nasty campaigns all lost. So conventional wisdom, that that's how you win a race, was turned on its head. The people who ran the clean campaigns on the issues won, and in come cases beat incumbents." Wood, targeted in advertising and robocalls as being supported by Democrats, says he didn't change his politics, but the Republican party did.